GitHub deposits open source code in the arctic for use by developers even after 1000 years

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The GitHub Archive Program and the GitHub Arctic Code Vault are unique initiatives of the company, which aim to preserve open source software for future generations by storing the codes in an archive that can last for a thousand years.

In a recent development, GitHub moved all of its open source code and repositories to the Arctic. Made in conjunction with their archiving partners, Piql, GitHub wrote 21TB of repository data on 186 piqlFilm reels, which are digital photosensitive archival films that can last for 1,000 years. It has stored approximately 6,000 software repositories in Piql’s long-term storage data center in Svalbard.

As the blog details, the boxes with film reels were shipped to Oslo Airport before being sent to Svalbard, which is about 600 miles (1,000 km) north of mainland Europe. Due to the pandemic, it was closed until now and was only recently opened to visitors. Julia Metcalf, director of strategic programs at GitHub, said the project which was due to be completed much earlier has been delayed due to the pandemic.

The coils were kept in chambers deep hundreds of feet of permafrost, where the code now resides, fulfilling their mission of preserving global open source code for more than 1,000 years.

To recognize and celebrate contributors to open source software, GitHub designed the Arctic Code Vault badge, which is displayed in the highlights section of a developer’s profile on GitHub.

The company also reported that each reel in the archive includes a copy of the “Guide to the GitHub Code Vault” in five languages, written with input from the GitHub community and available in the GitHub repository for the archive program.

The archive will also include a human-readable reel that documents the technical history and cultural context of the contents of the archive, which the company calls the tech tree. It will mainly include existing work, selected to provide a detailed understanding of modern computing, open source and its applications, modern software development, popular programming languages, etc.


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Srishti Deoras
Srishti Deoras

Srishti is currently working as an associate editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering analytical news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts in pictures.



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